The latest ICEF Agent Voice survey compared perspectives of over 400 student recruitment agencies from 81 countries and was launched at ICEF Berlin last month.
Despite the many setbacks that the international education sector has experienced recently, recent trends show that exchange programs are on the upswing again. A notable surge in interest for online course recruitment and optimistic projections for 2023 further emphasize this recovery.
An overwhelming majority of educational agents (73%) have noticed an increasing interest in studying abroad, and they expect this trend to continue across all types of academic programs. In particular, 74% anticipate a rise in undergraduate, pathway, and foundation programs; 72% anticipate a rise in certificate and vocational diploma programs; and 72% anticipate an equal increase in graduate and MBA courses.
Because of the difficulties associated with adjusting to new technology, many people quickly write off these systems as unsuitable. Change management, operational matters, and workflow simplification are greatly affected by this.
The International Center for Education Finance (ICEF) claims that increased access to student loans and better job prospects after graduation are driving forces behind the growth of international education. A majority of agents (67%) say that the study country’s job market and immigration opportunities are major influences on students’ decisions. But 87% of agents say that students’ biggest concern is the cost of living, so rising global inflation is definitely something to be worried about.
More and more, recruiters are including financial services in their packages to allay clients’ fears about managing their own money. An overwhelming majority of agents (74%) now help students pay for tuition, and a third of those agents have branched out to offer financial products. Financial solutions and regulatory support for student loans are becoming more popular, particularly among those who want to move abroad. Expanding student finance options could open doors to markets beyond Asia, including Europe and Africa.
Despite obstacles such as regional oversupply or closed borders, 88% of agents have established new alliances in the previous two years, broadening their network of academic institutions and potential study abroad locations. Among the most popular places to study, Australia unexpectedly comes in at number six, just behind Germany and Ireland, according to a recent poll. The survey highlighted that visa approval rates, high living expenses, and issues finding accommodation continue to be major issues on a global scale.
Canada, the UK, and the US continue to dominate as top study destinations. However, the rise of online education offers a viable alternative for budget-conscious students, with 87% of agents now promoting or planning to promote online courses.Agents are increasingly valuing the flexibility of online education, especially during border closures, and 54% report a spike in demand since its widespread acceptance.
Markus Badde, CEO of ICEF, commends the sector’s resilience and adaptability, stating, “The digital transformation of education has been pivotal in the industry’s survival, rapid recovery, and future optimism amidst financial challenges.”
The industry has evolved significantly since 2019, with agents continuously adapting to new challenges and opportunities. However, there’s room for improvement in digital innovation within agency operations, especially in manual processes like commission invoicing and application handling. The PIE’s recent report reveals a significant portion of agents still rely on manual or basic digital tools for these tasks. This scenario presents a promising opportunity for tech developers to aid agents in digitalising their operations, focusing on sales funnel aspects like enrollment, retention, and invoicing.
Educli has developed a suite of tools that help agents manage students from the start of their journey to the end, including online forms, tasks, reports, and financial management.